Effective immediately, all my titles are available at a new local brick-and-mortar store!
You can now purchase all books RJ at The Eclective, a consignment gift shop on Indy’s south side dedicated to handmade,vintage, artsy, and …well…. eclectic gifts, products and art by local vend0rs of all sorts. My work is featured as part of a bookshelf display alongside my local author co-op peeps at the Speculative Fiction Guild, a shelf we are creatively calling the SFG Store.
The Eclective is located at 2915 S. Meridian St.Indianapolis, IN 46225. You can check out their website and Facebook page by clicking the links. But none of this will help you experience the Eclective. To truly appreciate its unique vibe, you need to visit the store for yourself. The Eclective is divided into booths and rooms, loosely organized into kids and teens, health and beauty products, handcrafted and re-purposed items, and The Geekery. SFG’s books are part of The Geekery (he said, surprising no one). There are original paintings, handmade soap (including Mother Nature’s Bath and Body by my good friend Sharilee Gray who clued me in about the store) and a stage for exhibits, demonstrations and special events (more on that later).
The SFG Store features all of my titles, priced to sell and competitive to Amazon. You’ll find my paranormal trilogy:
I have pre-autographed each book at the SFG Store, and as always, signatures are totally FREE and worth every penny you pay. Stock will vary week to week, but the store is close enough that I should be able to keep all titles in stock most of the time. And if you’ve already read my books, the SFG Store also features books by my talented friends and peeps J0hn F Allen, Matthew Barron, E. Chris Garrison, and Maurice McKiernan. And there’s plenty of vendors to shop besides us (not that we want to discourage you from spending all your time at the SFG shelf).
And to launch things properly, SFG is holding a grand opening kickoff event Friday, March 24 @ 6 PM. SFG is partnering with the Eclective resident artist Sarah Rae Cote for a fun evening of readings and paintings …the authors do the readings, and you do the painting! Whether you’re directly inspired by our images-in-words or your imagination takes you somewhere else, it’s just you, the canvas, the brushes and a couple of h0urs to paint whatever pops into wonderfully warped brain, and we can’t wait to see what that might be.
Guests can listen to readings and shop until the store closes, and we’ll all be around to personalize those signatures; participation in the painting activity costs $25 for supplies, which includes the canvas and access to brushes and paints. You get to keep your creation when you are done. The store closes at 7 PM but will remain open for painters only. Click here to sign up via the event page, or just stop in the night of the show. This is the first of many special nights in the planning stages. Hope to see you there!
The anthology A Big Book of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Volume 2 was released December 1. What follows is the introduction, composed by me, that opens the volume.
In 2009, an Indiana Networking site announced a new publication called Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Magazine was open for submissions. So one by one I sent in what I thought were some of my strongest selections and all were immediately rejected, so I composed something new.
“Able Bodied” appeared in the Winter 2010 issue, and Vol. I of this annual. Newly motivated, I continued to shop my stories around and quickly realized SWW offered unique opportunities.
Let’s talk word count: A “limit” of 15,000 just isn’t done. Most editors preach the shorter, the better, but D.L. emphasized great stories dictate their own length, not the needs of the editor. And as trends shift towards more electronic reading, print costs, the primary reason for the demand for shorter stories, no longer mattered. But writers couldn’t practice excess simply because they had the room to do so. D.L. and Sharon also believe in discipline, and the importance of every word’s impact.
Soon after, I released my first novel, and D. L. asked if I was interested in contributing a story as the featured author. I said “yes” and submitted “Inner Strength,” the story in this volume.
Though this marked the first appearance of “Becky”, it was by no means her last. Readers can follow her adventures as Paranormal Investigator “Rebecca Burton” in the short story Backstage Pass and the novella Haunting Obsession, my latest releases through Seventh Star Press. Her story will continue, but she appeared in SWW first, and that makes me unreasonably happy.
SWW offered the perfect starting point for me and other writers serious about our craft. And I’m grateful it was there for me. I also know D.L. and Sharon have great plans for the brand: original anthologies and expanding into novels, where they’ll continue to offer a fantastic platform for talent. And so while this “Best of” volume marks the end of an era, I look forward to seeing the Strange, Weird and Wonderful tales of the future.
A gathering of Indiana authors with: Vampires, ghosts, pirates, superheroes, fantasy warriors, wizards, and more!
Saturday, November 3,
Mooresville Public Library
220 West Harrison Street
Mooresville, Indiana 46158
Matt Adams: Indianapolis, Author of superhero prose, lives and works in Indianapolis. Long ago, I planned to patrol the streets as Batman, but ultimately decided writing was safer. www.mattadamswriter.com I, Crimsonstreak.
Maurice Broaddus: Indianapolis, co-editor of the Dark Faith anthologies (Apex Books) and author of the urban fantasy trilogy, Knights of Breton Court (Angry Robot Books). www.MauriceBroaddus.com King’s Justice, King Maker, King’s War, Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, and more.
Nicole Cushing: Southern Indiana, prolific author of horrific short stories. www.nicolecushing.wordpress.com Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters with the Beast Within (anthology); and the forthcoming novella Children of No One.
Eric Garrison: Indianapolis, dark supernatural fantasies: ghosts, demonic possession and sinister fairy folk. www.ericgarrison.wordpress.com Road Ghosts (3-in-1), Blue Spirit.
Roberta Hoffer: Indianapolis, three words: Romantic Vampire Series. www.asilentheart.com Silent Heart, Silent Madness.
R.J. Sullivan: Camby, author of edgy ghost stories and paranormal thrillers. www.rjsullivanfiction.com Haunting Blue, Haunting Obsession, Contributor to Dark Faith: Invocations
Kathy Watness: North Salem, serial contributor to fantasy anthologies, such as the Blue Kingdom series, “Terribly Twisted Tales,” and The Crimson Pact, V.1.
Michael West: Indianapolis, prolific author of traditional horror and scares. www.bymichaelwest.com Cinema of Shadows, Wide Game, Poseidon’s Children, Skull Full of Kisses, and the just-released Spook House.
Seventh Star Press Announces Four-Book Deal with Paranormal Author R.J. Sullivan Seventh Star Press proudly announces a four book deal with author R.J. Sullivan, making him the seventh author to come aboard the publisher’s main roster.
The addition of R.J. Sullivan comes close after Seventh Star Press’ strongest year yet, during which titles such as Jackie Gamber‘s Redheart and Michael West‘s Cinema of Shadows received excellent critical reception, and the artwork featured by the press also received increased recognition, as Matthew Perry recently won Top Cover Art in the 2011 Tor.com Readers Choice Awards for his cover art on Stephen Zimmer‘s The Seventh Throne.
The first title to be released by Seventh Star Press, Haunting Obsession, tells the story of Daryl Beasley. Daryl collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.
Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forget.
A member of the Indiana Horror Writers, R. J. Sullivan resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. His first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller about punk girl loner Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren.
R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona’s story, Virtual Blue, which will be released in 2013, followed by two more novels over the course of 2013 and 2014.
“I was with Michael West at several events last year, and I couldn’t help but notice the slick marketing materials he was handing out,” R.J. Sullivan commented as to why he wanted to bring his work to Seventh Star Press. “I saw how Seventh Star had a personal presence nearby to assist at the cons. I realized that having the publisher at those events changes the convention vibe, which can otherwise be an isolated experience. I love that they produce interior artwork as part of their product–it shows an understanding of the genre and its readers. It’s clear Seventh Star understand the modern publishing world, and does everything they can to open up opportunities for the author to succeed.”
Bonnie Wasson, whose cover art and illustrations are featured in Seventh Star Press titles such as D.A. Adams’ The Brotherhood of Dwarves series, will be creating the artwork for the R.J. Sullivan novels.
Haunting Obsession will be released in limited hardcover, softcover (trade paperback), and several eBook editions, including versions for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, and Sony-compatible devices.
Interview: Lucy A. Snyder on Switchblade Goddess and Beyond
With the release of Switchblade Goddess by Del Rey in late December, Lucy A. Snyder officially turned her Jessie Shimmer stories into a trilogy. In this blog interview, Lucy reveals that we have definitely not seen the last of Jessie Shimmer.
I am a raving fan of the first two books, and look forward to digging in to SG as soon as possible (the reading stack here at home, were it not mostly electronic, would have collapsed one of my walls by now, but I digress). Her first book, Spellbent, was nominated in 2010 for a Stoker Award in the category of Superior Achievement in a first Novel. (Check out my review of the first book here). Previously, Lucy’s collection Chimeric Machines won 2009 Stoker for Superior Achievement in Poetry. But enough from me.
Congratulations on the release of Switchblade Goddess. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
Did you conceive of the Jessie Shimmer stories as a trilogy, or did the development come after Spellbent?
Spellbent emerged from a short story assignment that never happened. Some years back, I got a heads-up that there might be openings in the anthology Apprentice Fantastic, so I started working up some ideas to pitch to the editor. I got the idea for a story centered on a young apprentice who loses her master when a storm-calling goes wrong and has to face down a demon with just the help of her familiar. The anthology ended up not having any openings, but by that time, I’d gotten excited about the characters and slowly started working on the story, which became a a novella, which became a novel.
By the time the story had expanded to novella size, I was already thinking ahead to additional stories I wanted to tell about the characters, and also about the overarching plot that would be carried out over the course of several books. Of course I had no idea if I could sell the book, or if whoever bought the book would want a series, so Spellbent was written with a more “closed” ending than either Shotgun Sorceress or Switchblade Goddess. Which consequently resulted in my adding the prologue and epilogue to Spellbent.
And ironically enough, I haven’t managed to get to the events implied by the prologue in the series yet, so really I might as well not have included it! I need three more books to carry through with the main plot arc. Said novels, unfortunately, will probably not be released by Del Rey. My agent and I are in contact with other publishers; one way or another, I will write the rest of the Jessie Shimmer series and make it available to readers. But at the same time, I do have to keep a roof over my head, so if I end up writing the rest of the series without the benefit of an advance, it’ll take me longer than I’d like.
One of the joys of the trilogy is your portrayal of the sorcerers and witches existing as an open secret in the mundane world. Is this just fun extrapolation or do you think there are secrets hiding in plain sight in the real world that the average person has conditioned themselves to ignore? (Author photo by Doug Dangler)
Mostly it’s a fun extrapolation. At the same time, we humans aren’t built to be able to sense everything that happens around us: x-rays and magnetic fields are invisible, very low and very high pitches are inaudible, quarks and gluons untouchable. So who’s to say that there aren’t secrets hiding from us in plain sight?
One of the things I love about the series is the character of Jessie Shimmer. She rides a fine moral and ethical line in ways that I think will surprise uninitiated readers. Did you have a clear understanding of where she makes her stand in most scenes? Did anything raise a flag with yourself, your pre-readers or you publisher that you had to reconsider?
As a character, Jessie is a good person who wrestles with her own darker impulses. She’s quick to anger and her first instinct is to jump in and fight when the people she loves are threatened. So, she wants to do the right thing, but a calmer, more dispassionate person might question the prudence of the things she decides to do.
The main things as a writer that I’ve asked my editors and first readers for input on is the level of violence. The violence and darkness in the books won’t be anything extreme to horror readers, but not all urban fantasy readers have been expecting it. Some people who read what’s marketed as urban fantasy are mainly romance readers, and they expect the urban fantasy novels they open to simply be a more action-oriented kind of paranormal romance. My books have a love story, but they are not romances and were not intended to be romances. Romance readers have a different set of expectations, and they often don’t expect the kind of violence that happens in my books.
And there’s issues with sex. Romance readers may usually expect sex scenes to mostly happen off stage. If the sex happens on stage, it’s supposed to fit with the plot, sure, but mostly it’s supposed to be hot. Some of the sex scenes I’ve written are supposed to be plotworthy and disturbing, or plotworthy and funny, or plotworthy and creepy. It doesn’t all titillate because it’s not all supposed to titillate.
Might we be seeing Jessie or the supporting cast of this trilogy in future stories?
Absolutely! The story “Repent, Jessie Shimmer!” will appear in Apex Book Company’s 2012 anthology Southern Undead. And there will be a set of new stories about Jessie, Cooper, the Warlock, and other characters in my forthcoming collection Orchid Carousals, which I hope will be out toward the end of 2012. I’m still working on the stories, which are all erotica; some of them may also be appearing in other anthologies, but that hasn’t been decided yet.
Thanks again, Lucy, and congratulations! I’m looking forward to checking it out.
It wasn’t until I looked back to the beginning, and saw the path I had taken–which had led me to a story and a world that felt mired in the weight of everything I was trying to cram into it–that I saw the path that would lead me out. It was a path that meant leaving everything I thought defined the story behind, save its core, and starting anew with a resolute focus on that core–a hard thing, given how many years I had been trying to make it work. But I took it… and at its end was what is now my debut novel, being published today–“Brutal Light”.
Identity, I’ve come to realize, has always been a central issue in my writing. There are so many ways we cling to words and the ideas behind them–and often, any ideas that seem attached to them, whether or not they should be–and, for so many, a terror at having these words and ideas ripped away. Who am I, underneath all the words I say define me, and am I really sure there’s any ‘me’ there?
On deciding to write my first novel, I drew on stories I wrote for Internet reader consumption in the nineties for inspiration, and wrote the draft at a blistering, NaNoWriMo-esque pace. The end result was, of course, awful, as I’m told should be expected for such a first draft. Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy of that draft, so I can no longer say how well the question of identity shines through. But it was reflection on this quick draft that informed my next stab at a novel.
This new version featured a woman–a former subject of experimentation intended to end the ravages of nanobot swarms–whose change in a crucial moment caused the physical rules of the world to go haywire, causing dimensions to unravel, cities to burn in a perpetual dream state, and worse. The story centered on her journey–along with that of her involuntary companions–across this strange and twisted North American landscape, pursued by those who want to take her power and those she has wronged. It was strange and weird and full of spectacle–and it just did not work. The storyline got completely lost in the second half, though I bulldozed on, convinced I could fix things in the next draft.
I certainly tried. The next draft kept the general setup, but tried to focus the action and spectacle in a single ‘dreaming city,’ as if it had been the shifting locales in the previous version that had been the problem. This draft shambled to a halt at the midway point, and another attempt at revision did likewise. The story seemed dead in the water; for a while, it was.
In 2002 or 2003, a friend of mine asked if I would contribute a story to an anthology he was planning to produce, on the broad subject of heroism. With little time to work, I looked back on my previous novel drafts for inspiration. That was when I took stock, and looked back to see the path I had taken. I realized I had lost sight of what the story was about, and that I had focused so much on the spectacle that I had lost sight of the characters beneath it. Worse, I had let the character at the center of the ‘power’ issue become a cipher, viewed wholly through other eyes, where the ways she might contend with identity were obscured.
The way out soon became clear to me. The characters had to become central again, even if it meant ditching the weird wild post-apocalyptic landscape I’d developed and situate events in a modern city where the rules were clear, at least on the surface. My ‘power’ character became human again, and as I considered her relationship with the power–which, in this version, would sometimes act through her despite her wishes–the story grew, spawning other characters with their own identity issues. And no matter how weird and bloody the story got–it plunges headlong into territory more twisted and dark than anything in the previous versions–it was anchored by who the characters were… and what they found beneath the words they had for who they were.
The anthology never saw daylight, unfortunately, but the short story became the starting point for a new first novel draft. When I finished that draft, I knew that the story so long struggling to emerge from my fingertips was out at last. The rest was denouement–editing, rewriting, polishing, and years of slinging it around at various agents and publishers until I found Damnation Books.
I learned a lot during this journey–not only in terms of storytelling and prose mechanics, though I certainly learned a lot about those. I learned how to find the core of the story and how to preserve it from ‘spectacle creep.’ I learned how one of the most invaluable traits that aids in making it to publication is a persistence that would make a mule shake its head and say ‘damn.’ Most of all, I learned how to look beneath the words we use to define ourselves to the world, in both my characters and myself.
Blurb for “Brutal Light”:
All Kagami Takeda wants is to be left alone, so that no one else can be destroyed by the madness she keeps at bay. Her connection to the Radiance–a merciless and godlike sea of light–has driven her family insane and given her lover strange abilities and terrible visions. But the occult forces that covet her access to the Radiance are relentless in their pursuit. Worse, the Radiance itself has created an enemy who can kill her–a fate that would unleash its ravenous power on a defenseless city…
Rhea Cole is also on the run, after murdering her husband with a power she never knew she had–a power given her by a strange girl with a single touch. Pursued by a grim man unable to dream and a dead soul with a taste for human flesh, she must contend with those who would use her to open the way to the Radiance, and fight a battle that stretches from the streets of Detroit to a forest of terrifying rogue memories.
Excerpt from “Brutal Light”:
The light surrounded them, bringing the crushing hum Gordon remembered. His mind screamed with the sound.
He reached into Havelock as Havelock reached into him. At once he was in the forest outside, in the body of a wolf running hard through brush and foliage. Panic beat with the wolf’s heart. Rage coursed through its nerves with each impact of paw against soil. The wolf burst into a clearing and saw a boy’s mutilated body.
The wolf slammed to a halt, and Gordon felt himself thrown as if ejected through the windshield of a crashing car. An image of his body formed without his conscious will, and he flew over the boy. As he crashed into the ground and rolled, he realized he had seen the boy just moments ago, peering through a window. He was almost sure the boy wore the same orange shirt now on the corpse.
Gordon was on his feet in an instant, facing the wolf. But the wolf was gone. Havelock stood in its place, staring down at the boy’s corpse. Horror and guilt surged through the emptiness that was in his expression only a second before. Gordon thought it was like watching him come out of a trance.
Light seethed beyond the trees and stabbed down through the green canopy. Things moved beyond the edge of the clearing, between the trees and the relentless glow. Some were bestial. Some had human shapes. All murmured with a delirious anticipation.
Havelock saw himself as a wolf—that much was clear. The question of why was not clear, and also of no interest. What Gordon wanted to know was why the memory of finding this boy, the memory Gordon triggered with his attack, had been powerful enough to make him drop his guard.
Gordon became conscious that his right hand gripped a handle. He didn’t need to look away to know that it was part of a shovel, or that it was already drenched with blood. He didn’t need to think of why it had come to his hand.
Unlike Havelock, he knew his demons.
Gordon leapt at Havelock and swung the blade of the shovel at his throat.
Gary W. Olson grew up in Michigan and, despite the weather, stuck around. In 1991 he graduated from Central Michigan University and went to work as a software engineer. He loves to read and write stories that transgress the boundaries of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, while examining ideas of identity and its loss in the many forms it can have.
Obsessed by Fiona Dodwell
(C) 2011 by Damnation Books
Launched September 1
So Fiona, welcome back! This is the second book release in 2011, with The Banishing having launched this past March. (Click here to read my first interview with Fiona.) Congratulations.
Give us the “elevator pitch” of Obsessed. The title conjures up an array of possibilities.
Well, Obsessed is essentially a story about a haunting. My main character, James Barker, witnesses a suicide on the railway tracks of London, and he begins to see visions of the dead man in his nightmares, in his home. He eventually visits a therapist who assures James he is experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. However, James isn’t convinced. He believes he is being visited by a spirit, and, in order to find out why, James begins to look into the dead man’s past. What he finds there leads him into a spiral of obsession and mental disorder.
You chose to remain with Damnation Books for both titles. Tell us what you love about DB that kept you there for your follow-up novel.
I love DB because they love horror, they support horror as a genre, they support horror writers. They’re all about the fiction, and the love of scary books. I couldn’t have wished for a better home for The Banishing and Obsessed. The cover-art, editing, support and help I received was so valuable to me.
How did the editing process go a second time, coming into it with some experience? Was it still nerve-wracking, or do these sorts of processes get easier over time?
I’d say it was easier, simply because I knew what to expect. I wasn’t so nervous. I was able to approach it without the nervousness that preceded the release of The Banishing.
What did you learn from the marketing of The Banishing that you took with you in preparing to market Obsessed? What worked? What’s not worth an author’s time or investment?
Well, The Banishing had a lot planned for its release. There were full page ads placed in some magazines here in the UK. I did two radio interviews, had several successful and positive reviews. I took part in blog tours too. I tend to think an online presence works the best, which is my primary focus for Obsessed. Online is magic, because you can reach the larger numbers. One magazine ad, or one newspaper interview is great, but it only reaches its specific audience – at least online you can move about, spread the word in various places.
Part of the process of book promotion is building an audience which you take with you to follow-up projects. How do you balance the joy of hearing from readers with the pressure of knowing you have fans who now have “expectations”?
It’s difficult. The Banishing was a surprise to me, because it was my first novel, I was so nervous. I half-convinced myself nobody would read it, and then convinced myself that those who would probably wouldn’t like it! I was a mess. However, once it was out there, I began to get very positive reviews. People seemed to enjoy it. I had emails from random readers, just because they wanted to tell me they loved my writing, that they had loved the book. It was a fantastic feeling, and something I feel positive about. What comes with that is the hope that you can do it again. I’m approaching Obsessed with an open mind. I believe it’s a good book – or I would not have put it out there – but I am open minded and sensible enough to know that not everyone who reads it will love it. Some will love it, though, and that makes it worthwhile.
How will Obsessed play to your readers who have expectations from you? How will it confound them? When you write, do you concern yourself with such things, or do you just write to the story?
I just write. I try not to think too deeply, or worry what people will think too much. As I said in the answer above, some people will love my work, others will not. That’s life – that’s human nature. I can’t write a certain story or in a certain way to impress people. I have to be honest. I always do the best I can do, and that’s what I’ve done here. People who read it and come away happy, having enjoyed it, are what it’s all about. I know in writing The Banishing, you dug pretty deep into subjects most people would find uncomfortable–an abused spouse who chooses to remain with her abuser. Did you do the same “digging” in this book?
Nothing makes me happier than exploring those dark places of human nature! The Banishing explored domestic abuse and demonic possession – two great twins of evil. Obsessed is no different – I this novel and I explored and studied suicide, post-traumatic stress, and spiritual hauntings. Really fascinating subjects. I love to write about such things. I can’t do light and fluffy, I’m afraid! What’s next for Fiona Dodwell?
I have finished my third novel, The Shift, and am currently submitting it to publishers for consideration. My fourth novel – as yet untitled – is at the very, very early stages, but I’m excited about it!